Episode 32: Emailing Groups

Published on October 3, 2012 by      Print
Whether you’re sending information to students, parents, or fellow staff members, sending out a group email is still one of the most efficient ways to get important information out to a large number of people quickly. Let me show you what I think is the quickest and most polite way to send group emails.
All mail programs like Outlook and Apple’s Mail, and even web based mail systems like hotmail or gmail have ways of setting up groups, or mailing lists within their address books or contact lists. I have found these processes too slow and difficult to be very useful to me.
The method I prefer to use is simply to create a text file with all the addresses that I want to send to, separated by a comma.  If I want to take a little more setup time I will include the real name of the person with the email address in angled brackets like this Timothy McKean <tim@edtechmoment.com>, and then the next name. Now I can save this text file in my Dropbox or Evernote so that I always have the email list ready to copy and paste into a message. Alternatively, I could also copy the mailing list into a new email and save it as a draft so that I always have the mailing list info in my mail interface.
Now, making the list and placing it somewhere easily accessible is just the first step, next is sending the message.
Have you ever received a group email and then realized that you could browse through the addresses of all the other recipients?  Several times I’ve learned colleagues’ email address simply because they received the same advertisement or organizational newsletter I did, and I realized that if I can browse their addresses then they are able to browse my address as well. This is because the sender is not protecting the recipients privacy when sending the message.
In most email programs there are three field that you can input  recipients’ email addresses. TO, CC, and BCC. TO, being the most common place to put an address that you want to send a message to. CC is “Carbon Copy” where the message might to someone and then carbon copied to someone else. For example if I receive an email from another teacher I can reply got them with the answers to their questions, and then “carbon copy” to my administration or other department members. This way all involved are kept in the loop and it clear to all involved who has received the mail so that they know all the correct people have been kept in the loop to reduce redundant messages.
The third option, the BCC, is a “Blind Caron Copy” and is for those times that you want to keep the recipient list private. I may use this when responding to an upset patent about a grade or class policy. I can respond to the parent, and then BCC my admin or department head for future reference. The parent, however, does not see the addressees of the BCC recipients.
To protect your recipients’ privacy correctly when sending a group email don’t paste the address list into the “To:” or CC fields of your message.  Instead place your own email address there, and copy and paste the address list from your text file into the “BCC:” field. This way the only addresses that the recipients see will be yours and their own.  You will also receive a copy of the message in your inbox that you can store away for future reference as well without having to search through your sent messages.
So to review, setup a simple text file with all your group’s email addresses separated by a comma.  Store that file as a draft or in your Dropbox or google docs where you will have access to it any time you need it. In your newly composed message put your own address in the TO field and copy and paste the group list into the BCC field so they will all receive a copy, but their contact information will be kept private.
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